Chronic diseases are now the biggest threat to humanity – as many as 63% of deaths worldwide are caused by chronic diseases. Which diseases threaten us most and how can we guard ourselves against them? Will healthcare informatics allow us to deal with this pressing problem?
Chronic diseases are the most common cause of death
Chronic diseases are often difficult to diagnose, because in most cases they develop unnoticed. Despite their initially mild nature, they can cause irreversible lesions. This is the main reason why, among other things of course, chronic diseases are the most common cause of death not only in Poland, but also all over the world. Some of the most deadly chronic diseases are cardiovascular diseases, neoplastic diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. Just these four diseases cause over 30 million deaths worldwide each year!
However, what are the most common diseases that affect Poles? The situation changes with age – up to age 14 we complain most about allergies, asthma and eye diseases, and later we are affected most often by back pain, hypertension and neck pain. The statistics are alarming. As reported by the Central Statistical Office of Poland, as early as in 2009 more than half of our society was struggling with chronic diseases, including children.
What dangers lie in wait for the youngest?
Year after year, the number of chronic diseases among children increases. Experts have indicated these four problems as the greatest threats: obesity, tooth decay, mental disorders and neoplastic diseases.
According to the latest report by the Ministry of Health of Poland, about 20% of teens are severely overweight, a proportion higher by half when compared to their parents. The worst statistics are those regarding children aged 14-18 years. Doctors are warning that if we are not able to reverse this trend soon, in a few years’ time that generation will suffer from diabetics and cardiovascular diseases.
Another very serious problem among youth is tooth decay – it affects about 80% of teenagers! Experts have indicated the lack of dental offices in schools as the main cause. The government simply has no effective tools to control the dental health of young Poles. The statistics on neoplastic diseases among youth are not much better. In just over 10 years a 40% increase in the incidence of cancer in children has been observed.
Technology helps fight chronic diseases
Experts agree on the fact that the fight against chronic diseases is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the twenty-first century. As a key factors in the successful fight against chronic diseases they indicate extensive prevention programs, universal screening among the population and short-term treatment by providing constant care: mitigation of emerging symptoms, inhibiting the progression of the disease, rehabilitation and continuous surveillance. Here is where healthcare informatics steps in to help the health care sector. What tools give professionals hope? Let’s take a closer look at several solutions.
Mobile apps and fitness wearables
A great health prevention tool? It can be your smartphone. Thanks to mobile apps and dedicated fitness wearables like Fitbit and Jawbone, we are observing the return of an active lifestyle in a mainstream fashion. Currently, all of our fitness information is being aggregated in our pockets, where our phone can then propose a custom training regiment, give tips on an effective diet, show our progress and even the number of burned calories in the form of clear graphs based on the collected data.
Thanks to all of this, keeping fit efficiently is easily accessible to everyone and the implementation of social features in fitness apps has brought out people’s hidden competitive side. Who doesn’t want to show off the distance or speed of a recent jog or the length of a cycling route to friends? As a result, we are drawn into a game of beating our own and friends’ records, and the phone will remind us that it is worthwhile to go to the pool instead spending another evening on the couch in front of the TV.
Management of preventive programs
Another great solution supporting health prevention efforts is the Sensinum Public Health Office system, which has already been effectively helping local government units in their fight against chronic diseases for over a year already. The tool facilitates the exchange of information between individual units conducting heath prevention programs and enables monitoring tasks in real time. Moreover, the possibilities of the Public Health Office are not limited to the management of chronic disease prevention programs only, but also facilitate the administration of programs of health promotion, or programs addressing alcohol and drug abuse prevention.
Prevention programs implemented by governments are extremely valuable tools in the fight against chronic diseases. Not only do they reduce risk factors for chronic diseases (such as alcohol abuse, smoking or drug use), but also stimulate society by encouraging people to adopt healthy lifestyles and, above all, allow early detection of chronic diseases. Thanks to the Public Health Office, the coordination of measures conducted by local government units scattered throughout the city, municipality or county no longer causes administrative problems.
Management systems for screening tests
Another effective way to combat chronic diseases is through screening tests. These are massive testing procedures designed to separate people according to a given disease, which allows the very early detection of specific health problems. One of the best known screening tests in Poland are universal newborn hearing tests, which are carried out in hospitals using appliances purchased by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity.
Screening tests have also seen serious support from modern technology. There are already a few eHealth systems that enable the management, collection and processing of data collected during prevention research on the market. The reduction of the administrative costs of handling such research, automating technicians’ and doctors’ workflow, and the easy sharing of medical results to patients are all extremely helpful features.
A very interesting example for modern eHealth is the system for the screening program for the early detection of colorectal cancer, commissioned by the Postgraduate Medical Center in Warsaw. It will allow the selection of program participants (of course bearing in mind the criteria of being a subject for such tests), create automatic invitations and reminders about doctor visits, send the collected data to the appropriate medical specialist, create appropriate work schedules for hospitals and even allow the generation of statistical reports from the research that can later be used in scientific studies.
Medications finally under control
The success of a treatment is very often determined by such details as properly taking medication as instructed by your doctor. This is the idea behind such services as Moje-Leczenie.pl. It is a mobile application that allows you to control the usage of prescribed medication and reminds you to take drugs or informs you about a missed dose. Due to the integrated calendar it can inform you about an upcoming appointment. Additionally, the system allows you to share your calendar with another person, therefore any other person will be able to watch after your child’s medications. Moje-Leczenie.pl is of course also a great convenience for physicians, who will be able to see the history of their patients’ medications and to compare it to the effects of the treatment.
Hope in overcoming chronic diseases
Chronic diseases have become one of the biggest challenges of civilization that humanity will have to face in the twenty-first century. Preventive measures conducted on a large scale, widespread screening tests, promoting an active lifestyle and medication control systems seem to be the easiest to implement and also the most effective ways to fight chronic diseases. Certainly, we have an increasing number of systems that effectively help us in this struggle, but we’re still in a need of new solutions.
One of the most popular trends in the development of solutions for eHealth is developing software in a SaaS model (Software as a Service). What does it mean? The SaaS model for eHealth means real benefits for health care, as the infrastructure costs of such implementations are minimal. To use SaaS applications all you need to do is to have a computer with Internet access. All the software is in the cloud and solely provided to you through any web browser.
Currently available IT systems for health prevention and eHealth are often created only on the basis of technological knowledge, which usually does not bring the expected results. The experience gained in Sensinum tells us that when designing such a system only the combination of medical and technology expertise can make the new solutions effective at serving the chronically ill.
Effective battling with chronic diseases using modern technology is possible, but it requires the synergy of many factors – in-depth medical knowledge, excellent relationships with the recipient as well as knowledge of the latest technological solutions available on the market.
Sensinum is a Polish software house aiming to provide the best software development services to companies, marketing agencies and teams. Thanks to the outstanding experience in working as a subcontractor or in cooperation on external projects, Sensinsum brings the best results to the table. Our talented developers that work on advanced projects on a daily basis will be happy to work with you. Don’t hesitate to ask anything, contact us and consult your software idea for free.